WASHINGTON — Last fall, Republicans had high hopes for a “red wave” in the 2022 election after they seized power in Virginia and nearly won the gubernatorial race in New Jersey. While the Democrats were unmotivated, the Republican base was on fire.
But in recent weeks, numerous data points have indicated that the Republican prospects for a landslide victory are dimming. While the president’s party tends to do poorly in midterm elections, there are signs it’s shaping up to be an unusual year, which could allow Democrats to occupy one or both houses of Congress.
Election analysts attribute the change to the ruling by the conservative Supreme Court to strike down the constitutional right to legal abortion, declining gasoline prices and former President Donald Trump stealing the spotlight and reasserting his dominance over the GOP. .
Here are the signs:
- A democratic victory in pioneering elections. The strongest sign of a changing landscape came last week in the Hudson Valley, a highly competitive district north of New York City that has mirrored the national landscape for years. He voted for Joe Biden in 2020, Trump in 2016 and Barack Obama in 2012. In a red wave climate, the Democrats would not have to win the House special election. However, Democrat Pat Ryan defeated Republican Marc Molinaro in a test of each party’s preferred message. Ryan ran to protect abortion rights, combat gun violence and fight corporate greed, while Molinaro sought to make the election a referendum on Biden, inflation and “one party” rule in Washington.
- Persuasive voters lean toward the Democrats. The latest NBC News poll, taken this month, included an unusual finding for the midterms: Persuasive voters in the midterms lean toward the ruling party Democrats. This group represents about 25% of respondents who float between parties and tend to be male, moderate, independent, and ex-urban. They led Republicans by 6 points in the combined NBC News polls for January, March and May, but led Democrats by 3 points in the August poll.
- The GOP’s “enthusiasm” advantage is shrinking. In March, the NBC News poll found that Republicans had a 17-point “enthusiasm” advantage over Democrats, meaning their voters were more likely to express a strong interest in voting on this case. In the August poll, the GOP’s lead fell to 2 points.
- Mitch McConnell is playing down expectations in the Senate. McConnell, the Republican leader, does not seem overly optimistic about his chances of seizing control of the Senate, predicting just two weeks ago: “The House is probably more likely to change its mind than the Senate.” That may be a product of the changing environment, coupled with a McConnell phenomenon described as “candidate quality.” A number of first-time Republican contenders are fighting in competitive races against seasoned Democratic politicians. Recruitment failures in states like New Hampshire and Arizona have led Republican governors to decline to run.
- Republicans are cutting advertising spending in battleground Arizona while pouring cash into a safer Ohio. The Senate Leadership Fund, a McConnell-allied super PAC, is cutting $8 million in September spending in Arizona while pledging $28 million in Ohio to prop up Republican JD Vance, who is head-to-head in the Senate race. with Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan. . Senate Leadership Fund Chairman Steven Law said in a statement that the party is shifting resources due to “an unexpected expense in Ohio.” In 2020, the state voted 12.5 points more for Republicans than the country as a whole; it should be a layup for the GOP, especially in a favorable year.
- Biden’s Approval May Be Rising (Although Still Poor). One of the most troublesome data points for Democrats has been the president’s approval rating, which historically correlates with midterm election results. Biden’s job approval plummeted last summer. The NBC News poll finds Biden’s approval rating roughly flat at 42%. Other polls show it rising, including a new one. Gallup poll that shows his approval rose from 38% in July to 44% in August, his highest rating in a year. The main driver of the change was approval among independents jumping from 31% in July to 40% this month.
- Republicans seem scared by abortion. Republican candidates are trying to obscure their views on abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling and the New York special election, apparently wary that their stance is a political loser. They include Blake Masters, the Arizona Senate candidate, who removed anti-abortion language from his campaign website. They also include Tom Barrett, the Republican seeking to unseat Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., who took down part of her campaign website vowing to “protect life from conception,” the Detroit News informed.
In general, given the narrow Democratic margins, the Republicans do not need a red wave to gain control of Congress; a series of waves in key contests may be enough. And high discontent about the economy and the country’s direction means the mood may yet shift against Democrats in the future.
But with only 70 days to go until Election Day, Democrats see some hope of bucking historic midterm trends against the party in power.